In a recent session with executives from a global company, we had a profound day and a half. We worked very hard to discover who we really were. During the breaks and meals, people were approaching me with accounts of deep change in real time. These were very moving. The next day I received an email from a participant who had not approached me. I share his account below with his permission.
Dear Professor Quinn,
The classroom sessions are done, but my mind is still on the second
floor classroom of the Business School building.
While driving back home, something dawned on me that I have to share
with you. All my life I have been trying to be someone I wasn’t. I had built up an
image of a person I needed to be.
Ashamed of being who I was, I have been covering up my perceived
shortcomings with beliefs that those were really my strengths. The
discrepancy between the reality and the image of myself had created
unnecessary stress and fear, fear of falling in the eyes of people I care about.
I now know that it is OK to be who I am, as long as I try to be a better
person than yesterday. As I am typing this, it is a scary to even read this email back to myself.
THANK YOU for showing me that facing this fear (being vulnerable)
opens many possibilities. This certainly has been a transformational
I consider this a sacred account and a powerful teaching tool. What can we learn from this authentic self-observation? All of us fall into the conventional pattern of being externally directed. Because of fear, we try to be someone we are not. We seek to cover our own self-deceits. Fear is at the foundation of this distortion.
Yet, potential is also at our foundation. The moment we embrace a higher purpose and link a desired future to our inner self, we begin to contribute to the common good. In the process, we reveal a better self. It is a self we can more fully love. When we love our unfolding self, that is, our best self, we immediately see others differently. We see in them the potential they do not see in themselves. We reach out to them. We offer them challenge and love. The relationship changes and together we begin to co-create social excellence.
- In life and at work, why might it be that we do not know who we really are?
- What changes when you begin to live from the authentic self?
- How does living authentically lead to the co-creation of social excellence?
- How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?